They are unable to access subsidised foodgrains in the capital, he says
Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey has written to the Delhi government, urging it to resume the use of electronic Point of Sale (ePoS) machines at ration shops, so that the One Nation One Ration Card scheme can be implemented in the State.
In a time of COVID-related distress, the scheme would benefit an estimated 10 lakh migrant workers in Delhi who have ration cards in their home States but are unable to access subsidised foodgrains in the capital, said Mr. Pandey, in his letter to Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Kumar Dev on Tuesday. Delhi is one of only four States which has not yet implemented the scheme.
Ration card portability
Ration card portability under the ONORC scheme is dependent on ePoS machines, as they use Aadhaar-linked biometric authentication to verify the identity and entitlement of beneficiaries even if they are not registered at that particular shop. Delhi had suspended the use of ePoS in early 2018, after widespread complaints of poor network leading to authentication failures and exclusion of genuine beneficiaries. However, all States have now installed ePoS and implemented ONORC except Delhi, West Bengal, Assam and Chhattisgarh.
Mr. Pandey noted that Food Minister Piyush Goyal had already written to the Delhi government on February 18, asking for an ‘expeditious resumption’ of ePoS to improve transparency in the distribution of foodgrains and for the implementation of the ONORC. “However, progress in this regard is yet to be made,” he said. His letter comes as the Delhi government is engaged in a spat with the Centre regarding doorstep delivery of NFSA foodgrains, for which the Food Ministry has refused permission.
“Considering the prevailing situation of COVID-19 pandemic and looking at the difficulty faced by migrants, facility of inter-State portability will ensure delivery of ration to a large number of migrant workers in Delhi,” said Mr. Pandey. “All NFSA migrant workers [estimated to be over 10 lacs] in Delhi will be able to draw their ration card by debit to their home State. This means there will be no additional burden to Delhi govt.”
Right of choice
He noted that Delhi’s own ration card holders would also benefit as they would be able to draw ration from any ration shop within or outside the State, without having to go through the hassle of changing their residential address on the card or applying for a new card.
“Experience in other States has shown that ONORC implementation has led to empowerment of beneficiaries as they have choice to change their ration dealer without the interference of bureaucracy or red tape at ground level,” said Mr. Pandey, adding that this right of choice would lead to improved services by ration shop dealers.
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